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Lawsuit filed over 2021 Tom Petty documentary ‘Somewhere You Feel Free’

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for J/P HRO

A new lawsuit has been filed in Los Angeles accusing Warner Music of stealing footage for the 2021 Tom Petty documentary, Somewhere You Feel Free.


Filmmaker Martyn Atkins claims in his lawsuit he was hired in 1994 as art director for Petty’s solo album Wildflowers, and would “on his own volition and at his own cost” film Petty while making the album. He says he and the rocker would discuss possibly making a documentary from his footage, although it never happened due to Petty’s 2017 death.

The suit says in 2020 he met with the Petty Estate and the rocker’s daughter Adria Petty and they discussed a possible Wildflowers documentary, with him as a producer and director. He claims they discussed the location of his footage, which he shared. The footage had been stored at Warner Records because in 2014 Petty offered to hold it for him “for safekeeping” while Atkins was moving.

Atkins says after that initial meeting he never met with anyone again, and then in 2021 the documentary premiered with “a shocking 45 minutes” of the 90-minute film made up of his footage, which he insists he’s “the exclusive owner and author” of. He says the doc also incorrectly claimed the footage was “discovered” when he always knew where it was.

“The Film’s producers did not seek or obtain consent from Atkins to use his copyrighted footage,” reads the lawsuit, adding, “Defendants not only stole and misappropriated the Works, but also deprived Atkins of the opportunity of creating (and thus becoming ‘the filmmaker who brought you’) the project Atkins largely filmed and which he had always envisioned.”

Atkins is suing Warner for copyright infringement, and is seeking actual and compensatory damages, as well as an accounting of profits for the film and more.

 

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